Ep.78 – The Last Days of Jimmy Flavor - Ancient Books and Hard Drugs Don't Mix!
Tonight Jimmy Flavor is a world class thief and he's taking on a demonic cult for fun and profit.
Jimmy Flavor's Last Day by David O'Hanlon
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Jimmy Flavor stood in the shower letting the water scald his back. He took a drag off the cigarette and watched the smoke disappear into the steam, the same way the water hid the tears. Through the gap in the plastic shower curtain, he could barely see the revolver sitting on the chipped countertop through the manmade fog. The water pressure was shit in the sleazy motel, but it got hot. Hot enough to scour away the last three days. Jimmy tried to ignore the knuckles rapping against the flimsy motel door. The television was blaring with an old war movie. The knocking turned to pounding. Jimmy listened to the rattle of machinegun fire through the TVs busted speakers. He leaned his head against the wall and took another long pull off the smoke before dropping it into the blood-tinged water pooling around his feet. It twisted and danced its way to the drain behind him. The boot hit the door and he heard the frame shatter. His fifty-dollar deposit wasn’t going to cover the damages. He bunched the shower curtain in his fist and stared at that damn gun. Flavio Jimenez wouldn’t have reached for it. But Flavio was a charcoal briquette in the trunk of a firebombed car sitting in an abandoned lot. Jimmy Flavor felt the first, cheap plastic ring snap off the curtain rod as he made his decision. The more lives a man lives, the more deaths he dies.
Three Days Ago
Flavio Jimenez tightened the tiny screws into place, one after the other in the cramped cellphone repair kiosk located around the corner from the mall’s food court. He shifted uncomfortably on the cracked vinyl stool as the aroma of Hamburger Hamlet’s kitchen wafted around him like a malicious spirit, leaving in its wake a slime trail of grease that Flavio could feel oozing through the pores of his skin. He powered on the tablet, unlocked the screen and turned it off again before sliding it into the envelope with the customer’s contact information on it and placing it in the ‘service completed’ drawer beneath the counter. Dweeb Space 9 was the premier cellphone and tablet repair service provider for eastern Oklahoma—at least that’s what the sign said. Flavio opened another oversized plastic bag and removed the archaic Nokia 8210. The customers were celebrating their twenty-year anniversary and wanted to recover their first text messages. He pressed the power button for no result and, of course, there was no charger included. He swiveled on the stool and pulled open the drawer for antique accessories. The cords were organized in a tangled ball wrapped in duct tape inside a grocery sack. Flavio sighed and dropped the bag on the counter. It’d be worth noting that he hated his job, if he liked any facet of his life at all. He did not. Flavio didn’t live, so much as he existed. In school, his grades stayed just high enough to graduate and he didn’t participate in any extracurriculars. Since no one was offering attendance scholarships, he went to work at Dweeb Space 9 and continued to stay there for the next seven years. He lived with his mother and sister and helped with the cleaning because he couldn’t cook anything that didn’t come with instructions on the box. His father was the risk taker and they lived comfortably on the life insurance as a result. It taught Flavio at an early age, not to do more than absolutely necessary. Mediocrity was a lifestyle he was born to, with a slight build and average face which he kept hidden behind a shaggy mop of black hair and perpetual five o’clock shadow. Flavio hated his hair because it reminded him of how stupid his name was. He was not ‘yellow-haired’ not that anyone in Etawa, Oklahoma knew that’s what it meant. Flavio was the butt of his own inside joke. It was a name that led everyone to believe he spoke Spanish, which caused him both irritation and shame since he did not. The worst part, however, was his best friend CK. Since their first meeting in sixth-grade, CK insisted that Flavio must be Spanish for— “Yo, Flavor!” CK shouted as he jogged to the kiosk. No matter how many times he said it, or how many Spanish dictionaries he was given, Chandler ‘CK’ Kosinski insisted that Flavio meant ‘flavor’ and refused to call him anything else. “Aren’t you supposed to be at work?” Flavio asked. “Jobs are for people that don’t like making money.” CK waved at the DS9 sign. “Case and point.” “You got fired again.” Flavio prodded the Nokia’s charging port with one unidentified cord after another. “Just find something that doesn’t suck and stick with it.” “Or,” CK leaned on the counter and glanced around before continuing, “we could do one night’s work and make enough to buy this kiosk and make a living off dumbass high school kids… or guys with absolutely no forward momentum, like yourself.” “That’s the worst motivational speech ever. Ha! Got it.” Flavio set about freeing the correct cord from the tangle. “What is this one night’s work?” “I told my priest about my side gig at confession,” CK said. “Stealing copper isn’t a side gig, it’s a felony, but please continue.” “So is stealing nudes off those phones, but I know you got a collection.” “It’s a service fee for all the dick pics I have to see.” Flavio looked up from his work with a sour expression. “Did you know people are putting domino pieces in their dicks now? Why is that a thing?” CK cocked his head and scowled. “I never realized how happy I was not knowing a thing until I learned that was a thing I didn’t know. Can I get back to the fucking point, Flavor?” Flavio rolled his hand in an exaggerated call for CK to continue. CK looked around to make sure no one was close enough to hear him. “So, Father Roland came to me the other day and said someone robbed the church and he wants to hire a couple guys to go get it back. He asked if I knew any hardcore, stick-up men and I told him I had the perfect guy. A real fucking professional thief.” CK snapped his fingers and pointed a finger-gun right between Flavio’s eyes. “You told your priest that I was a thief?” Flavio pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “Kind of.” CK scratched at his platinum goatee. “I told him about a guy named Jimmy Flavor. I said he was this hotshot bank robber from Texas. Look, it’s an easy job but Roland won’t hire me unless I bring in someone with experience.” “You want me to lie to a priest, so he’ll hire us to steal shit? That’s the most Catholic thing you’ve ever said, CK.” “Six-figures, Flavor. That’s what he’s offering.” Flavio’s face ruined any feigned disinterest. “Get cleaned up.” CK slapped some folded twenties on the counter. “Cut your hair, shave that depression off your face, put on your club clothes, and meet me at the church in the morning. This is the kind of opportunity that could change your life, bro. One night of taking a fucking chance for a change and then you can go back to stagnating in normalcy.” “Jimmy Flavor, huh?” Flavio tried not to smile as he said it. That was a much better name than ‘Flavio Jimenez.’ His gut twisted with a feeling he didn’t recognize at first. Then it hit him—he was excited. “What time?”
Flavio slept in a succession of short naps—a victim at the mercy of his own excitement and anxiety. He was already up and looking at the stranger in the mirror when the alarm went off behind him. His shaggy mane was replaced with a short-cropped fade and the scruff on his face was nothing but a tidy soul patch below his lip. He smoothed the collar of his red, flame-adorned overshirt and shut off the alarm before heading outside. Flavio’s car was the only extraordinary thing about him. The 1953 Bel Air his grandfather bought new, and his father restored before his death, was Flavio’s only love. He cruised across town, wringing the steering wheel the entire drive. When he pulled up to the curb outside Saint Anthony of Thebes Catholic Church, CK was already waiting. He sat on the hood of his Kia Optima and talked to an elderly priest. Flavio watched them in the mirror for a moment, looked at himself and took a deep breath. “You’re not Flavio Jimenez anymore. You’re a hardcore criminal. Act like it.” He got out of the car and strolled over to the other men with a false confidence he hoped hid the shaking in his knees. He nodded to CK. “This is the guy I was telling you about, Father.” CK slid off the chipped, dented hood. “Meet Jimmy Flavor.” Flavio eyed the priest suspiciously. “You don’t look like a criminal mastermind.” “I’m Father Roland.” The priest didn’t offer his hand, which was busy manipulating the beads of a rosary. “What I’m hiring you for is hardly criminal. You’ll be acting with the full blessing of the Vatican.” Flavio looked to CK and then back to the priest and scoffed. “Don’t dip shit in sugar and call it a cookie, padre. You asked for a thief because you want thievery. Things that don’t belong to you now, are going to by the morning. That’s what you need to know. How about you cut the ‘mission from God’ line and get to the part where you tell me what I need to know to make that happen.” CK’s eyes were wide with disbelief and Flavio hoped his didn’t match. He wasn’t brash or disrespectful. But apparently, Jimmy Flavor was. Even his voice sounded different. It was deeper, with an edge that made Flavio uncomfortable. The priest nodded and smacked his lips. “Well, I was told you were the real deal so I shouldn’t be taken aback by such pointed speech,” Roland said. “The Vatican was in possession of certain artifacts linked to a Hittite cult, worshippers of an unsavory deity of disease called Jarri. They entrusted the collection with an explorer in the sixteenth century who was instructed to bury them far within the New World.” Jimmy Flavor shrugged. “You don’t need a stickup man for grave robbery.” “Some of the artifacts have been found,” Roland said. “The cult was revived at the beginning of the twentieth century, as seen with the arrival of the Spanish Flu. The Church has been trying to suppress these men and their machinations for some time. We recovered an idol in 1921 and a grimoire, a spellbook, in ’33. Both items were interred in the catacombs beneath your feet.” Jimmy Flavor looked at the sidewalk, then back up at the venerable cathedral. “You know who jacked you?” “A businessman named Earle Price is High Cleric of the Jarri cult.” Roland flicked his wrist, wrapping the rosary around his fist in a deft movement. “They’re rolling the infernal dice of damnation in a gamble to seize power beyond earthly comprehension. COVID, wild fires, rising hatefulness; they’re all signs of the cult’s meddling. Soon they’ll decipher more of the grimoire. We need it back before that happens.” “Sounds like a fucking D&D campaign.” Jimmy turned to CK. “This is what you’re wasting my time for? You want me to steal a book from some rich cocksucker for The Absent-Minded Preacher? The fuck was you thinking?” “The Vatican is paying a twenty-percent finder’s fee.” Roland shrugged with disinterest. “The book alone would be worth one-hundred-thousand-dollars for you. Retrieve it and the idol, and you could triple that number. However, the grimoire is the priority. They’re not fighters, Mister Flavor. This city is overrun with gang bangers that would jump at the opportunity. I would prefer a professional get back our belongings cleanly. That does not mean I won’t send an army of amateurs to butcher them all. Take it, or leave it. The deal is on the table for another thirty seconds.”
He took it. The day passed much differently. Jimmy Flavor didn’t want to let go and Flavio found himself along for the ride. He spent money in anticipation of the small fortune coming his way, investing in a new outfit and an eight-ball of cocaine before hitting the biggest club in the city just after dark. Flavio could count the amount of times he got high on one hand, but Jimmy Flavor was railing coke like an 80’s stockbroker. By the time his savings were gone, he was popular enough to drink for free until he found other pursuits more worth his time. At three a.m., his cellphone lit up with a text message from CK telling him it was time to meet. He pushed away the hand on his thigh to the dissatisfied groan of the woman beside him. Jimmy got dressed quickly and stepped into the bathroom. The other barfly was still in the shower and he wiped the steam away to check his appearance in the mirror. Flavio hadn’t been with two women in the last year, but Jimmy took two back to the hotel at the same time with ease. Jimmy Flavor was supposed to be a figment of his imagination—a character to play for a night. But he was more than that. Flavio stared deep into the dilated pupils of Jimmy Flavor and saw himself cowering inside. The thief lived life so fully that he was birthing himself in the void of Flavio’s empty husk. Maybe he had been the imaginary one all along. Jimmy’s eyes flicked to the blurred, naked form through the translucent shower curtain. There was no way he could ever go back to the droning zombie he’d always been. He was Jimmy Flavor.
CK screamed as he plummeted from the top of the twelve-foot concrete wall that surrounded Earle Price’s estate. Jimmy turned and went back for his friend. The barking of the Dobermans was full of hate and frustration as they tried clawing their way up the wall in pursuit of the thieves. Shouting cultists drew nearer, followed by the mechanical groaning of the gate’s motor. The barking changed directions as they bolted to the opening portal. Jimmy dragged CK to his feet which produced another scream. He looked down and grimaced at the angle of CK’s shin. The protruding bone tented the pant leg. “Quit being a pussy, it’s just a sprain.” Jimmy glanced over his shoulder to the moving outline of the gate. “We have to go before the dogs get out!” Too late. The duo shambled along another twenty feet before Jimmy let go. CK landed in the wet grass face-first and stared up at his friend in shock. The dogs were closing the distance faster than they could hobble. CK would get some stitches, but Father Roland promised the Vatican would keep them out of prison. Jimmy mumbled an apology and dashed away before the first dog dug into CK’s broken leg. The others circled their prey and pinned him in place, forgoing further pursuit of Jimmy. He stopped running at the end of the drive and heaved breathlessly in awkward silence. No one was chasing him. The robbery went smooth… for a moment. A single shot into the ceiling sent the twenty-odd cultists cowering. Then things got weird. The lights flickered, the room got cold—then there were the words and the darkness. The wallpaper peeled away in strips with whispers from within. Jimmy grabbed the book and pistol-whipped the guy in the fanciest robes before they bolted through the front door. The dogs were on them in an instant. And those damnable words followed them across the yard like buzzing insects. In the glaring floodlights, Jimmy could see robed silhouettes hoisting CK from the ground. Then came the screams. It was a demented shadow puppet theater from his vantage point as he saw the faceless shapes stringing CK’s intestines from his writhing figure. Lightning crackled overhead and CK went quiet. Jimmy watched the body fall limp and the figures turn his way. More whispers came from all around him. He didn’t understand the language, but he knew the meaning. He knew it was time to start running again.
Jimmy climbed through the bedroom window and shook off the rain. CK had the idol when he fell, but Jimmy still had the grimoire. He tossed the book on Flavio’s bed and stripped off his wet clothes. He heard his mother, always an early-riser, banging around in the kitchen. The red numerals on the alarm clock showed him a future that wouldn’t happen—the shrieking buzz of the alarm and the droll routine of getting ready to stagnate in the Dweeb Space 9 kiosk. Never again. He was a professional thief now. Jimmy dressed quickly. He would sleep when he got to the church and collected his payment from Roland. A glass shattered down the hall and Jimmy froze in place. His revolver was sitting on the bed next to the book. He stared at it trying to will it across the room and into his hand. His mother moved like a ballet dancer in the kitchen. He’d never seen her drop anything. His gut tightened and he tiptoed to the weapon, slipping it into his waistband and dropping the book into an old backpack that he slung across his torso. The screaming started and he found himself in wet pants once again. Flavio wasn’t gone completely, it turned out. His bedroom door flew open, crashing against the wall. Mari’s face was streaked with tears. His sister’s mouth opened to cry out when the visceral tentacle twisted around her neck, pulling her to the floor. Jimmy watched as the mound of slithering entrails converged on her body, smearing bile and blood across her satin pajamas. The puckered orifice of the disembodied stomach slid across her cheek like a snail, leaving a sizzling trail of digestive juices burning through the flesh. The small intestines gyrated across the carpet, securing Mari in their embrace. The organ positioned itself over her and forced its contents into her mouth with a wet squeal. Jimmy jumped through the window in a crash that did little to cover his sister’s agonized screams. He rolled through the mud and sprinted down the sidewalk to his car. The engine rumbled and the tires fought for traction as he pressed the accelerator all the way down. Flavio didn’t believe in anything he couldn’t see, but he still wouldn’t have believed what Jimmy had seen. Those sick bastards gutted his friend and somehow animated his guts into a grotesque hound to track him. Everything the priest said was true. The Cult of Jarri was real. The things they could do were real and if the magic was real, then so was their depraved god. That meant the world was up shit creek if he let them have the book. They already killed everyone Flavio cared about. Soon, they’d find him and he’d be just as dead. He rubbed the tears away from his cheeks. Jimmy Flavor wouldn’t be so easily killed. He would get the book to Roland, collect his money, and disappear. He still had five shots in the revolver and only an hour until dawn. He whipped the car around a corner and slid across the lanes before straightening it out. Jimmy took a deep breath and eased off the pedal. In his rearview, all he saw was wet asphalt reflecting the streetlights. The monster wasn’t back there and he let the breath out softly. Then he saw something else. The man lumbered down the sidewalk in soggy clothes. His wet, shaggy hair clung to his face. Jimmy pulled up to the curb and let the headlights fall on him. They were about the same size. Jimmy stepped out of the car with the pistol hidden behind the open door. The man’s clothes were ragged and dirty and a soggy cardboard sign was folded in the outside pocket of his backpack. “Hey, you need a lift?” Jimmy called out through the downpour. The man turned and jogged over to him. Jimmy’s thumb cocked back the hammer when he realized they were about the same age too. The man rested his hands on his hips and smiled a toothy grin. “Thank you. I thought I’d catch my death out here,” he said. “You have.” Jimmy raised the gun and fired a single shot through the man’s front teeth. Jimmy loaded the body into the trunk and drove to the abandoned Kmart where he worked on removing the rest of the teeth. He emptied a gas can over the body and tossed a hastily made Molotov cocktail at his beloved car. The last piece of Flavio ignited with the shattering beer bottle. A fireball tore through the sky as the fuel tank exploded and the sirens of rushing firetrucks became the soundtrack for Jimmy’s long walk to the church. Ahead of him the sun was rising on a new day.
Saint Anthony’s was empty and unlocked. Jimmy drew his weapon and called out for Father Roland. The priest didn’t answer. Jimmy continued his search, eventually coming to the open door of the rectory on the second floor. The smell burned his nostrils and he held his shirt tight over his face to combat the fumes which grew stronger as he explored deeper into the apartment and turned into the bedroom. A figure stretched across the soiled bedding. Above the white priest’s collar, strips of smoking flesh clung to the exposed skull. He jerked the shirt away and vomited across the foot of the bed. He scanned the room for the creature and found a smoldering slime trail lingering across a windowsill and down the wall outside. Jimmy calmed himself and went back to the bed. A fanny pack sat on the night stand with tightly rolled cash inside. Jimmy stuffed it into his backpack with the grimoire. His fingers caressed the ancient leather tome. He pulled the book out and flipped through the mildewed pages. The TV chimed an announcement of breaking news; the police were looking for twenty-five-year-old Flavio Jimenez in connection with the murders of his mother and sister. Jimenez was suspected of strangling the women and trying to dissolve their bodies in acid. Tears welled up in Jimmy’s eyes. He sniffled and cleared his aching throat. The cops would find his car soon and call off the search. He had to disappear before they realized it wasn’t his body in the ruins. He slammed the book closed and put it back in his bag. The Vatican still wanted it and didn’t know he’d already been paid. Vatican City was its own country with no extradition treaties. He could hide out there until he got fake papers and then slip into some Italian village with enough money to never work again. He made his way out of the church. The clouds were parting and the rain was just a light drizzle, shimmering in the sunlight. Things were going to be okay. He just needed to lay low and contact the diocese. Jimmy enjoyed the moment of calm. The Cult of Jarri must have taken the bait and assumed he was dead. That’s why the intestinal-creature wasn’t waiting around for him. He was free and clear until they ID’d the body in the Bel Air. That gave him a day or two. Jimmy smiled. It would all be over with a phone call. The black Chrysler eased to the curb. Jimmy’s face fell. He recognized Earle Price behind the steering wheel. The passenger door opened and another man stepped out. Jimmy drew the revolver and put two in the man’s chest before he could finish telling him they just wanted to talk. Then he ran. He ran until his lungs hurt, until he thought his legs would break away and continue without him. The Cult would be on his trail again. He was running out of time and bullets and he pushed himself faster down the sidewalks and alleys, never looking over his shoulder to see who was chasing him. He just ran.
The phone call went well. The Bishop said he would send someone to collect him and the book. Everything was falling into place until the five o’clock news showed the world the face of spree killer Flavio Jimenez. Footage from a traffic camera showed him gunning down Price’s goon in high-definition. They were also blaming him from Roland’s murder. The Etawa Acid Killer was suspected to be at large. Armed and dangerous—and completely fucked. Jimmy dumped the cartridges out of the revolver and tossed the spent casings into the waste bin, one after the other, flinching as they clinked off the metal side. He pushed the two remaining bullets into the cylinder and snapped it shut. Two bullets and maybe twenty minutes to go. He changed the channel to some war movie before heading to the bathroom. He turned on the shower and peeled away his clothes. The cultists, the police, and the Vatican were all coming to get him. There was nothing left to do but wait to see who got there first. He tapped a cigarette from the pack and lit it before stepping into the shower. He took a long pull and let the water scald his back. The movie was blaring in the other room but he could hear the knocking over it. It was urgent, frenzied pounding. Someone was shouting. Jimmy looked through the gap at the revolver sitting on the counter. He spat the cigarette into the water, watching it twist as it drifted away behind him. There was blood in the water, but he didn’t remember being injured. The door shattered with a brutal kick. Jimmy bunched the shower curtain in his fist. It definitely wasn’t the Church. He ripped the curtain down and stepped out, retrieving his pistol and aiming it at the back of the door. He could hear the men yelling more clearly. State police. He cocked the revolver. Jimmy Flavor wouldn’t be taken alive. The cops would lock the book away safely. The Vatican could collect it from them after the dust settled. At least then the Cult of Jarri would never have it. A smell stung his nose and he thought about the blood in the shower. He turned his head upward slowly. Through the steam he could see the dripping, pink mass swarming across the ceiling. The stomach shifted through the writhing intestines overhead. The sphincter puckered and blew an acidic kiss that splattered Jimmy’s bare feet. The bathroom door burst inward. Jimmy’s finger tightened on the trigger while the intestines tightened on his throat. He heard two shots. He thought they might have been his until he felt the damp tile press against his cheek. He stared at the thing slithering across the ceiling. His head lolled over. A chunk of brain matter oozed down the side of the bathtub. He was sure it was supposed to hurt, but he didn’t feel anything anymore. The room got dimmer. The voices got quieter. And Jimmy Flavor died just as quickly as he had lived. The End
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